What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) simply means that the heart unexpectedly & abruptly quits beating. This is usually caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF).
No. A heart attack is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked, resulting in the death of the heart muscle. Heart attack victims usually (but not always) experience chest pain and usually remain conscious. Heart attacks are serious and sometimes will lead to SCA. However, SCA may occur independently from a heart attack and without warning signs. SCA results in death if not treated immediately.
While the average age of SCA victims is about 65, SCA is unpredictable and can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.
VF is an abnormal heart rhythm often seen in SCA. This rhythm is caused by an abnormal and very fast electrical activity in the heart. VF is chaotic and unorganized; the heart just quivers and cannot effectively pump blood. VF will be short lived and deteriorate to asystole (a flat line) if not treated promptly.
The only effective treatment for VF is an electrical shock called defibrillation. Defibrillation is an electrical current applied to the chest. The electrical current passes through the heart with the goal of stopping the VF and giving an opportunity for the heart’s normal electrical system to take control. This current helps the heart reorganize the electrical activity so it can pump blood again. An automated external defibrillator (AED) can defibrillate the heart.
An AED is a device that analyzes and looks for shockable heart rhythms, advises the rescuer of the need for defibrillation and delivers a shock if needed.
What if the victim has a medication patch on or EKG electrodes on the chest where I want to place the electrode pads?
Never place AED electrode pads directly on top of medication patches, such as nitroglycerin, or EKG patches. Patches should always be removed and the skin wiped dry before placing electrode pads on the skin.
No. The electrode pads remain on throughout the resuscitation and until the victim is transferred to advanced care providers such as the paramedics. If the electrode pads are in their correct locations on the victim’s chest, they will not interfere with proper hand placement or compressions.
Should I use the AED if the victim has a pacemaker or is pregnant?
Yes, never withhold AED use in a person with SCA.
What if I have a child victim?
You should use pediatric electrode pads, which carry a lower charge to the child in SCA.
What if I don’t perform all the steps of CPR and defibrillation perfectly?
SCA is a high stress situation. Even experienced health care providers do not do everything perfectly. In SCA, performing CPR and using an AED can only help the victim.
What if I’m not certain whether or not I need to use an AED?
Remember this rule: only use an AED on someone you would do CPR on – unresponsive and not breathing.
Shouldn't I just buy the same AED used by my local rescue squad or ambulance?
AEDs used by EMTs and Paramedics may be intimidating to lay persons trained only in CPR. Often, they're more expensive, too. Purchase an AED that you and your coworkers can be easily trained on, use with confidence and one that fits your budget.
What is the warranty on an AED?
All new AEDs come with a manufacturer's 5-year warranty. Some models offer 7 years of warranty coverage. Accepting anything less than a 5-year warranty means you may be purchasing a used or "refurbished" machine.
What is medical authorization and what is it for?
Medical authorization is a written prescription from a doctor authorizing us to send an AED to you. All AED sales companies will require this prior to an AED purchase. We have a wide network of resources to obtain medical authorization for those non-medical customers.
What is medical direction and oversight?
Many customers who buy AEDs want "quality control" after the purchase as well as help determining company's policies about how and when an AED will be used, maintenance of AEDs, and training. Heart Smart AED.com offers medical direction and oversight services through a network of physicians across the country who are dedicated to your AED program.